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Ackerman Heritage House: Period-Perfect Restoration

Ackerman Heritage House: Period-Perfect Restoration


Stefan Pinto's journey through Napa's off-the-beaten-path wineries continues with Ackerman Heritage House, where they put as much love and attention into their Cab-Savs as they do their Victorian estate.

Hello my fledgling somms! It’s the eighth delightful week on our journey through Napa’s off-the-beaten path wine tour! It’s like the Amazing Race! Or is it Survivor?

Before we open our next Cab, I have a little cocktail party quiz I’d like to play: how do you turn a “what if” into a “what is”?  Let’s make it easier: what if you could do anything, but only had 1,825 days to do it? What would you do?


A lot can happen in five years.

At age 30, Jeff Bezos was living in a 500-square foot apartment. Five years later, he was worth $10 billion.

How about this: Five years is what it took for Chris Columbus to discover the Bahamas, Cuba, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic) *and* North and South America. Granted his ships were already in the area, but still.


Ok, picture nude men: Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel in (less than) five years. More of a tortured soul? Did you know, Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth in five years?

Ok Stefan, what the hell is your point?! I want wine! Gimme wine! Wine please!

Like you, I like beautiful things. Even better, if those beautiful things are perfect. As we have realized, very few things in life are ever perfect, and sometimes, time is all it takes to make something beautiful.

Since five years is the max you’ll probably want to wait for something beautiful to appear, I have a treat in store for you. I’ll even give you the address.


Clutch My Pearls! Is That A Victorian?!

I know it’s hard to believe, but right in the middle of downtown Napa, there exists a gorgeous, picture-period-perfect, restored 19th-century Queen Anne Victorian. And it took only five years (and two million dollars) to make it a reality.


Seriously though, restoring something into the most perfect example of quality and class is no easy feat.

Designed by long-dead local Napa architect Luther Turton in 1888, one hundred years would pass before a certain strong-willed and purposeful woman would set foot in Northern California. It was a decision that indirectly led her to discovering and eventually purchasing the then-known-as Napa’s Famous Pink Lady.

Historic Charm: The Ackerman Heritage House

Prior to its restoration, the only historic house on our Napa wine tour was once known as The Gifford House. Still on Napa’s National Register of Historic Places, the renamed Ackerman Heritage House is located on 608 Randolph Street, just two blocks from Main Street in downtown Napa.

Part of the Ackerman Family Vineyards, the Ackerman Heritage House (AHH) is owned and operated by Bob and Lauren Ackerman.


Making wine—specifically Cabernet Sauvignons—since 1995, the Ackermans have intentionally kept their production cases to 300-500 per year. Ackerman Family Vineyards focuses on community and giving back, with 100% of the profits donated to the Napa Valley Community Foundation.

The Ackerman’s are committed to sustainable vineyard farming. Incidentally, the Ackerman vineyard (the actual grape vines) is not located on Randolph Street (where the Heritage House resides), but instead in Coombsville, a Napa Valley sub-appellation about four miles away from the AHH, in the southeastern corner of Napa Valley.

Coombsville is close to San Pablo Bay, thereby creating cooler temperatures resulting in longer growing seasons—factors conducive to even ripening.

As a result, Ackerman produces just one wine a year, a Cabernet Sauvignon. So any taste difference rests with the vintage. All of Ackerman wines are aged for two years in Taransaud French Oak. After bottling, it sits for another two years.


We tried three, all in sit-down style, paired-with-picking fare, at the Ackerman Heritage House, with Lauren Ackerman serving not only as our docent tour guide, but our charming—and delightful—hostess.

I’ve always wanted to pull up in front of a house (any house, frankly), look up at the window (any window), and see a dignified and regal woman looking down at me. Then, I yell up at her to throw something down, or to come downstairs, or something action oriented. Sort of like in that 90s movie, Scandal, with the singer from Fine Young Cannibals (they had that one hit, “She Drives Me Crazy”). In the movie, there’s a scene where one of the models comes out onto the veranda and the FYC singer yells up at her to forgive him or something and of course, she doesn’t. And he leaves madly… but ultimately all the more interesting than when he arrived. Well, finally that happened to me… sort of.


After a simple and polite wave through the timeline-perfectly stained-art glass window, Lauren promptly came downstairs and opened the majestic front doors to greet us. In the far-flung future, the details of our greeting shall be embellished. After all, I did mention to Lauren that AHH would be a perfect setting for a Napa Valley reality show. (Beat. “Lauren appears mildly amused as she reaches for a corkscrew”).



Ackerman wines are versatile (like we all seem to be, nowadays!). Considered a traditional Bordeaux styled wine, Ackerman’s wines age well and, as with any good Cabernet, their wines are ideally suited for food pairing. Ackerman wines are, however,  extremely limited. They are available on their website.


If you’d like to schedule a tour as well as a wine tasting at The Ackerman Heritage House, it is strongly advised that you make a reservation (to do so, click on the e-mail link located at the bottom of this Ackerman webpage).

More About the Ackerman Heritage House

If you would like more details specific to the design, architecture and construction of the Ackerman Heritage House, visit the Napa Valley Register website. There you will not only find that information, but the original selling price for the house! I know you’re curious.


Next Week: The Last Winery on Our Tour

Speaking of picture perfect, come back next week for a visit to Odette winery, the last on our off-the-beaten-path Napa Valley wine tour! Our tour guide will be the dashing Lt. Governor of California himself! You won’t want to miss it!

And in the meantime, catch up on my first seven stops: Tres Sabores, CheckerboardRaymondBlackbirdTom EddyElizabeth Spencer, and Round Pond Estate.


About the Author

Stefan Pinto is a male model and photographer. In 2007, he spent one week on expedition with National Geographic in Oaxaca, Mexico. His work has been published in Maxim, Forbes, Out Magazine and The Advocate. He shows up briefly kissing a woman on a veranda in the season finale of Bosch Season 2, now on Amazon Prime. Find him on Facebook or follow him on Instagram.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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